Nigeria Media and History

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  1. BIRTH OF NEWSPAPER PRESS

The earliest newspaper in the territory that later became Nigeria was the Iwe Irohin which was founded in 1859 at Abeokuta (now a city in south-western Nigeria)  by the Rev. Henry Townsend, a Christian missionary from Exeter, England.

Rev. Townsend started the newspaper with the full title Iwe Irohin fun awon ara Egba ati Yoruba (a newspaper for the Egba and Yoruba).

The renounced media historian, Fred Omu, reported as follows:

A fortnightly, Iwe Irohin sold for 120 cowries, the equivalent of one penny. The annual subscription was two shillings. On March 8, 1860, an English language supplement was added in a bilingual experiment made possible by Egba converts who carried out the entire translation of the Yoruba language part of the newspaper … Advertisements were carried as from 1861.

(Source: Omu, Fred (2000)   ‘The Nigerian Press: Milestones in Service. In Oseni, Tunji & Idowu, Lanre eds. Hosting the 140th Anniversary of the Nigerian Press. Lagos: Toson Consult.

  1. MEDIA’S OBLIGATION TO MONITOR GOVERNANCE

The media in Nigeria have a constitutional obligation to monitor governance.

Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution of the country (as amended) provides that:

The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.

(Source: 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria).

  1. CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

The right to freedom of expression is constitutionally generated to all persons in Nigeria.

Section 39 of the country’s Constitution provides that:

  1. Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.
  2. Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of this section, every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas, and opinions.

Provided that no other person, other than the Government of the Federation or of a state or any other person or body authorised by the President on the fulfillment of conditions laid down by an Act of the National Assembly, shall own, establish and operate a television or wireless broadcasting station for any purpose whatsoever.

(Source: 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria)

  1. DISQUALIFICATION OF PERSONS FROM BROADCAST LICENCES

Nigerian broadcasting law disqualifies two groups of persons from licensed to

operate broadcasting stations.

Section 10 of the NBC Act (as amended) provides that:

The Commission shall not grant a license to:

      (a) a religious organisation; or

       (b) a political party

(Source: National Broadcasting Commission Act 38 of 1992).

  1. THE ENTRY OF BROADCASTING

Broadcasting entered Nigeria in the early 1930s as a part of an initiative of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

A former Director General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (later Renamed Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria), Ian Mackay, gave the following report on how it happened:

It all began on December 19, 1932, when the BBC launched the world’s first regularly scheduled shortwave programme service. This Empire Service from Daventry, which was intended to develop political, cultural and economic links between the United Kingdom and English-speaking peoples, required a number of overseas monitoring stations. These stations, one of which was located in Lagos, were to become the ears and eyes of the BBC.

(Source: Mackay, Ian (1964). Broadcasting in Nigeria.

 

 

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